Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

The Barbarians (1987)
Media Home Entertainment | Review by Dan Taylor

When the credits on this baby start, you KNOW you're in for a cinematic experience that good or bad, won't soon be forgotten. Our stars include The Barbarian Brothers (two over-steroided goliaths seen in the classic DC CAB), Richard Lynch (fresh off BAD DREAMS success), and the ever-present Michael Berryman as something called "The Dirtmaster." Add in music by Pino Donnagio and direction from Ruggero Deodato and you know you're in for a real tweet!

And it came as no surprise to this viewer that Deodato delivers the goods right off the bat. Remember, we're talking about the man responsible for the classic CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, not some rank amateur. In the first ten minutes we're treated to no less than ten, good, on-camera mutilations including Lynch having two fingers bitten off by an adolescent barbarian. Needless to say, Deodato doesn't flinch and the camera lovingly takes it all in. Those wacky Eyetalians sure know how to make MOVIES!!!

So Lynch (playing some guy named Kadar) and his men really show their ability as warriors by capturing a traveling show of jugglers and acrobats. Oh boy, we're all sure impressed down here. The queen of the circus trades her freedom for the little barbarians lives and Lynch says, "Put her in chains." Wrong. EVERYBODY gets put in chains! And in my favorite flexing of his conquering muscle, Lynch tells a group of grimy, filthy, sex-starved mutants: "The women are yours." Eeeaaawwww!!!

Fifteen or so years pass, and no attempt is made to change the sets, wardrobes, or actors to show the passage of time (for more on my hatred for this insult to my intelligence, see STRANGELAND). In fact, Lynch, Berryman and the queen chick are dressed in the exact same clothes as they were when the Barbarians were just little boys. Now THAT'S continuity!

Pretty soon we find out that this sacred ruby is the cause of all the hub-bub, the Barbarians escape and soon we're getting treated to the Steroid Abbott & Costello as the two puddin' heads attempt to turn the flick into an action-comedy. Believe me...as soon as the Barbarians speak ("speak" is a relative term...let me say "open their mouths") the film automatically loses a whole star.

Finally, we get a 15-20 minute climax where Deodato throws every cheezoid monster he can get his hands on onto the screen. Soon we're treated to green gunkola and vibra-vision, but not much is happenin'. The "surprise" ending is visible ten minutes into the film, and Lynch really isn't that bad a guy...he's just kind of misunderstood.
 


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